Stu­dents ex­press spirit of Bas­trop in or­na­ment

The Mina Ele­men­tary fourth-graders’ de­sign in­cor­po­rates fires and strength of com­mu­nity.

Austin American-Statesman - - COMMUNITY NEWS - By Erin Green Bas­trop Ad­ver­tiser PHO­TOS BY ERIN GREEN / BAS­TROP AD­VER­TISER

Gig­gling, chat­ting, bounc­ing and full of en­ergy, Mayra Robles, Krystien Love, Han­nah Riesinger and Kylie Bartsch are imag­i­na­tive, cre­ative, quirky and fun.

Their art teacher, Lau­ren El­li­son, chose the Mina Ele­men­tary School fourth­graders to help de­sign and cre­ate an or­na­ment rep­re­sent­ing the his­tory and cul­ture of Bas­trop for the Texas House’s district or­na­ment project. Each mem­ber of the House — in the case of Bas­trop, state Rep. Tim Klein­schmidt — chooses a lo­ca­tion from his or her district each year to dec­o­rate an or­na­ment for the 20foot tall Christ­mas tree which will be on dis­play on the floor of the Texas House through Jan. 2.

But the or­na­ments’ reach goes far be­yond the start of the new year. Each or­na­ment is pho­tographed and a de­scrip­tion of its sig­nif­i­cance is en­tered into an al­bum for vis­i­tors to the cham­ber and to the House web­site to en­joy.

“I feel like the luck­i­est art teacher in the world, to be able to teach th­ese kids with the cre­ativ­ity and pas­sion they have for art,” El­li­son said.

She said the girls brain­stormed on how to best rep­re­sent the spirit of Bas­trop and agreed in­cor­po­rat­ing an as­pect of the fires and the strength of the com­mu­nity was im­por­tant. They then met with El­li­son and worked on cre­at­ing the de­sign.

The re­sult was Loblolly pines un­der a sky in­spired by Vin­cent Van Gogh’s “Starry Night,” which El­li­son said was Robles’ idea.

Other touches, she added, such as the pine nee­dles which fill the in­side of the glass or­na­ment, and the bear foot­prints and ea­gles cir­cling the sky over­head, rep­re­sent all of the Bas­trop school district’s stu­dents.

“It came from the heart,” El­li­son said of the de­sign. “We all love Bas­trop.”

El­li­son her­self was cho­sen to over­see the project by Staci Gideon, co­or­di­na­tor of fine arts at the Jerry Fay Wil­helm Per­form­ing Arts Cen­ter. Gideon said she knew she’d like to have an ele­men­tary cam­pus given the honor for dec­o­rat­ing the or­na­ment, but had a hard time de­cid­ing which one.

“I was try­ing to think of one of the ele­men­tary schools that were af­fected by the fires. I could have picked just about any of them,” Gideon said, adding she even­tu­ally de­cided on Mina be­cause so many of the stu­dents had been af­fected and be­cause of El­li­son’s flair for art and cre­ativ­ity.

To see pre­vi­ous years’ or­na­ments, go to www.house.state. tx.us/re­sources/hol­i­day-or­na­ments/.

This or­na­ment by four Mina Ele­men­tary stu­dents will be dis­played with more than 100 oth­ers on the state Christ­mas tree.

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